Ondo State residents from the Ijagba village in the Ose Local Government Area stormed the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Ondo Council state secretariat on Thursday to protest the repeated invasions, kidnappings, and killings by armed herdsmen.
The Ijagba community’s prime minister, High Chief Sunday Ogoh, led the demonstrators when they stormed the NUJ Secretariat in Akure, the state capital, claiming they were constantly losing family members to kidnappers.
The demonstrators claim that the Hausa/Fulani-speaking invaders made use of the woodland reserve between Ondo State and Edo State as a hideout.
They admitted that every time they kidnapped someone, they demanded ransom. Any victim whose family didn’t make a payment in the allotted time would be executed.
High Chief Ogoh explained that “We came here to inform the whole world what is happening in our local government area, most especially at Ijagba community, for the past two years.
“We have not been having peace of mind in our community with a lot of kidnapping, killings, burning of our houses, farmlands by these Fulani herdsmen that had been terrorising the community.
“Just three days ago, we lost one of our illustrious sons by name Ohiremen Isaac Odeh and his son too, named Solomon Isaac Odeh, who were attacked on their way to the farm. Apart from that, in that area, we also lost one of our former chairmen, Mr. Bola Adelegbe.
“In search for the victims in the bush, it was discovered that Mr. Ohiremen Isaac Odeh was killed by his abductors, while his lifeless body was found after trekking several kilometers in the bush.
“On the same day, the remains of Mr. Ohiremen Isaac Odeh were deposited in the mortuary, while a ransom of four hundred thousand naira, (N400,000) was paid to the abductors to release his son.
“It is now imperative, due to the ugly incident, to carry out our business and farming activities. We seek the support of the government and all relevant authorities to protect our lives and properties, which is one of the aims of the government since we can no longer go to the farm or sleep with our two eyes closed.
“This problem is not only limited to Ijagba, these Fulani herdsmen do operate in Imoru, Molege, Arimagija, Ute and Okeluse. On this axis, there is no presence of security operatives.
“So, we are appealing to the state government that we need; strong military base, Nigerian Army to be specific, so that they can mount one or two checkpoints in the area between Ifon, Imoru, Ijagba, Ute and Okeluse in order to reduce the attack of these Fulani herdsmen.
“Now many people cannot go to their farms, and whenever you’re going to the farm, you must be looking both your left and right and front and back because they can attack you at any time with their guns and weapons.
“The area has become the den of terrorists because there is a big forest reserve behind Okeluse, they use the place as their base. Whenever they kidnapped people, they would ask for ransom and once you cannot give them the ransom within two to three days, they will kill you. So, we have lost about 20 souls in that area in the last two years.
“We have reported to the state government and the security agencies in the state and the traditional rulers in that communities have held a several meeting, but up till now we have not seen any positive responses from the state government.”
Meanwhile, Solomon Isaac Odeh, who was kidnapped with his father, confirmed the incident and disclosed they (herdsmen) used rope to tie him and his father.
Revealing his ordeal in the hands of the Kidnappers, Solomon said: “They killed my father, while the sum of N400,000 was paid before they released me.”
When the Public Relations Officer for the state Police Command, Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanyato, was contacted on the security situation in the communities, she said: “We are aware of the situation in the community and we are on top of the situation with a view to arresting those behind the attacks. I can assure you that with our investigation, we will arrest the perpetuators.”